|Another chapter in one of European basketball’s greatest rivalries will be written on Thursday when Maccabi Electra hosts CSKA Moscow at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena. The two teams met just two years ago in the Euroleague title game in Madrid and two years before that in the title game in Prague. CSKA won both times. They also met in the Euroleague semifinals in 2004 in Tel Aviv, with Maccabi winning on its way to the title. Along the way there have been many other memorable meetings. However only a handful of the players set to take the court on Thursday took part in those games and they will all be focused on this one. Maccabi looks to bounce back after a tough loss at Caja Laboral last week, while CSKA aims to do the same after falling at home to Roma. Both teams feature great depth at every position, though there are a few matchups that stand out above the rest as keys to this game. One is at shooting guard, where Alan Anderson looks to lead the Maccabi attack against CSKA star Trajan Langdon, who is back after missing last week’s game due to illness. And at small forward, Chuck Eidson will test himself against former Euroleague MVP Ramunas Siskauskas. With those players among the most important on their teams, if one side can dominate on the wings, it will gain a distinct advantage. In the paint, Maccabi leans on the versatile Maciej Lampe for points and has shot-blocker D’Or Fischer and bruising Yaniv Green set to tackle CSKA centers Dmitry Sokolov and Sasha Kaun, while Maccabi power forward Stephane Lasme pits his athleticism against Viktor Khryapa and Ivan Radenovic. Of course the tide of the game could turn at the point guard spot, where Andrew Wisniewski and Doron Perkins will split minutes for Maccabi against J.R. Holden and Zoran Planinic. The latter can throw a wrench into any defense due to his combination of height, speed and court vision, which led him to score 22 last week. Of course Maccabi’s specialty is offense, not defense, which leads to the central battle of the point guards, to dictate the rhythm and tempo. Maccabi leads the league with a 50% success rate from downtown and if its guards can keep the pace high and generate more points, the hosts become the clear favorites. However if Holden and Planinic take charge, CSKA becomes the favorite in a half-court duel. But with the great talent on the floor and the coaching geniuses on the benches, much could happen in 40 exciting minutes before a winner is declared.
REFEREES: Luigi Lamonica, Milivoje Jovcic, Panagiotis Anastopoulos
Derrick Sharp has lost to CSKA twice in Euroleague title games. He came off the bench for Maccabi when it lost to CSKA in 2006 in Prague and in 2008 in Madrid.
Center Maciej Lampe and CSKA guard Anton Ponkrashov were teammates over the last two seasons at Khimki Moscow Region. They helped the team reach the 2009 Eurocup title game.
Andrew Wisniewski played alongside CKSA big man Nikita Kurbanov last season at Spartak St. Petersburg.
Point guard Andrew Wisniewski has made at least one three-pointer in each of his last eight Euroleague games.
Chuck Eidson has recorded a steal in each of his last nine Euroleague appearances.
David Bluthenthal has made 18 consecutive free throws over his past eight Euroleague games.
Trajan Langdon is now just 4 points behind Panathinaikos’s Sarunas Jasikevicius for 10th place on the Euroleague career scoring charts. Langdon has scored 1,797 points in his Euroleague career.
Trajan Langdon was named Final Four MVP in 2007 after recording 21 points on near-perfect shooting, 7 rebounds and 2 steals for a career-best 33 index in the championship game as CSKA beat Maccabi 77-91.
Ramunas Siskauskas and Maccabi forward David Bluthenthal were teammates at Benetton Treviso in the 2004-05 season.
Siskauskas has scored in double figures in six consecutive Euroleague appearances.
Head coach Evgeny Pashutin played in Israel during the 1999-2000 season for Maccabi Ra’anana. His head coach there was current Maccabi assistant Sharon Drucker.
Pashutin coached Maccabi point guard Andrew Wisniewski last season at Spartak St. Petersburg.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009